Polenta is not big in Australia but should be. It is cheap and nutritious and best of all, tastes great.
Last year I decided to make creamy polenta as a change from mash potato to accompany a winter stew. I went on-line for a recipe and was overwhelmed with conflicting instructions. It was hard to settle on a recipe. Also, I found it was difficult to incorporate into a dinner party meal as it needed to be made just before serving. To add insult to injury, when the left over polenta went cold, it set. It didn’t reheat well so I decided to fry it, which was a disaster. It went to mush in the frying pan.
Not to be deterred this winter I decided to try fried polenta. I liked the idea of fried polenta as the polenta is cooked well in advance and only requires a short frying at the last-minute. I chose this recipe from Moorish by Greg and Lucy Malouf. It was an instant success. I have made it twice already this winter. If you follow the instructions, you can be confident you will end up with yummy golden wedges of cheesy polenta.
These proportions are half of the original recipe but to my mind make plenty. This amount will serve 6 – 8 as a side to a hearty braise or stew.
- 1 litre water
- ¼ tsp salt
- 150g polenta
- 40g parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 tbs* butter
- salt and pepper
- plain flour for dusting
- vegetable oil for shallow frying
*This is a 20mil tablespoon.
- Line a 23cm springform pan with baking paper (or a square pan of roughly the same capacity).
- Pour the water into a saucepan, add the salt and bring to the boil.
- Pour the polenta into the water in a fine stream, stirring all the while.
- Turn the heat down to very low and cook the polenta for 30 minutes stirring all the while. This is hard work. Maus and I took turns. I know this sounds like a long time and there are other recipes out there that cook the polenta for much less time. But, if you do stir it for the full 30 minutes you can be confident your polenta wedges will not fall apart when you fry them. [I bet you could do this in a Thermamix or similar all in one kitchen appliance.]
- After 30 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cheese and the butter.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon the polenta into the prepared pan. Make the top as smooth as possible.
- Put the polenta into the fridge to set. I made mine the day before I needed it and left it in the fridge over night.
- When cold, turn out of the pan and remove the paper. Cut the polenta into serving portions. You can make whatever shapes you like. I went with wedges.
- Dust each portion with flour.
- Fry the portions just before serving. Heat the oil. You need it at least 0.5 cm deep. Now this important. Don’t play with the polenta when it is frying. Put the wedges into the hot oil and leave it until you are pretty confident it is ready (you can tell by the colour of the sides). When it looks golden, give the piece a nudge. (If a crust has formed it will not stick to the pan.) If it does not move leave it a little more and try again. Using an egg slide flip the polenta and brown the other side. If you try to turn the polenta before a crust has formed it is just as likely to fall apart. Resist at all costs.
- Serve with a hearty winter stew.